FIFA 23 hands-on: Big improvements but lacks game-changing features


FIFA 23 will be the last game in the iconic football series before the EA SPORTS FC rebranding takes place, but while the gameplay has never been smoother, the developers haven’t torn the book. rules for the final runout.

After nearly 30 years of partnership, EA SPORTS and FIFA are parting ways, making FIFA 23 the duo’s last outing before they became free agents. It’s no surprise, then, that many are hoping for a fitting testimonial for a series that has entertained football fans for nearly three decades.

We’ve had our first glimpse of the changes on the pitch, like Career Mode and Pro Clubs, and Ultimate Team is surely set to dominate once again, but it’s on the pitch that the pure football ultras and tough want to see progress.

I had the opportunity to lace up my boots and jump into FIFA 23, and while the beautiful game has never looked, sounded and felt better, fans shouldn’t expect an evolution. major in the series farewell match.

It’s worth noting that we’ve only been able to sit down for a handful of launch matches, so this preview won’t cover new FUT, Career Mode or Pro Clubs features.

Aim for the stars… or the stands

Arguably FIFA 23’s biggest gameplay innovation is Power Shots, an all-new risk-and-reward shot type that allows players to unleash devastating whirling strikes by holding down both bumpers. This new technique is perfect for long-range shots and one-on-one scenarios.

The trade-off is that Power Shots have much longer animations than regular shots as the attacker finishes to smash the ball past an unsuspecting goalkeeper, leaving them wide open for a defender to go back and put a foot. They also disable all aim assist so shots have to be aimed manually, causing more than a few of my efforts to navigate to the corner flag.

There was no greater thrill in our time with FIFA 23 than seeing one of these nestling in the top corner, but it’s a feature that will take time to master. Unfortunately, in its current state, it’s hard to see Power Shots affecting the meta too much, as there are simply too few situations where you can find the time and space to execute them properly.

Meanwhile, shooting, in general, has been revamped to make more different shot types available to players, and the ball moves much more realistically. The shots fizzle, dive, and swerve like never before, and it’s sure to lead to some of the dramatic moments the franchise is known for.

Set piece specialist


FIFA 23 set pieces are a huge step forward.

While Power Shots isn’t a game-changer, FIFA 23’s overhauled sets are a beauty. Gone are the days of aggressively wiggling your right thumb trying to land a knuckleball free kick, thanks to a new, much more intuitive trajectory line.

Winning a foul on the edge of the penalty area feels like a real opportunity this time around, as you carefully direct your shot into the top corner with the left stick and apply rotation with the right stick before activating the strike.

Helpful overlays also let you know exactly what kind of free kick you’re lining up, ridding yourself of that “hit and hope” feeling of years past. Don’t be surprised that free kicks and corner kicks, which work exactly the same way, fly into the net once experienced players become familiar with the new setup.

Penalties have also been changed to recreate the real pressure that comes from a last minute kick. The reticle has been ditched in favor of a timing mini-game where you have to press shoot when a shrunken ring of composure is right around the bullet; get it right and you’ll most likely ripple the side netting, get it wrong and you’ll have a David Beckham v Turkey situation on your hands.

The lack of a crosshair makes aiming unforgiving, and it led to some incredibly sweaty palms when stepping up for the killer penalty in a shootout, but it does a great job of translating the stress every player must feel at from 12 meters in FIFA 23.

World in hypermotion

All talk of HyperMotion 2 and machine learning technology may sound like developer jargon, but you can feel the difference as soon as you pick up FIFA 23, especially when it comes to dribbling. FIFA 22’s dribbling felt floaty, like you were handling a pro skater rather than a Premier League winger.

This time around the players have real weight going for them and moving with the best dribblers in the game feels agile and precise. Playmakers like Kevin De Bruyne or Thiago Alcantara can light up with new animations, opening up spaces to play that killer pass.

The same can be said on the pitch, where HyperMotion 2 has made every touch, pass and shot smoother and smoother. All in all, it gives you more control over every minute movement of your players, so it’s all the more enjoyable when marauding from midfield and moving past defenders.

Defense is the best form of attack

FIFA 23 player tackle


Defending is no longer a chore in FIFA 23.

We’ve talked a lot about attacking options in FIFA 23, but don’t worry, defenders have a few tricks up their sleeve. By holding down the sliding tackle button, hulking centre-backs can make some really crisp tackles straight out of the 1970s, and they feel almost as good as a goal on the other end.

These hard slides send the ball out of play or straight upfield for a counterattack, adding an interesting attacking wrinkle to the defense. Top defenders are also armed with new animations, allowing them to have a crucial toe on the ball in scenarios that would have seen them trailing dry last year.

All things considered, defending is more rewarding in FIFA 23 than before, and protecting your own goal no longer feels like a chore.

The 12th man

EA SPORTS has talked about the new presentation features quite meaningfully in the lead up to FIFA 23, and while this year’s game is almost certainly the most immersive football game I’ve ever played, there are a few issues. familiar with the presentation of the game.

Mobs have been given more variety, both in their character models and their animations when they sing, but they still look like mindless zombies if you stare into the stands for too long. There’s also something unsettling about seeing 60,000 football fans rise up exactly like some sort of army of droids in replica football kits.

On the ground, the visuals are much more impressive. The pitches are lush and the new 3D nets make every goal a highlight of the match of the day. Players were also brought to life in excruciating detail, but it’s worth noting that the biggest names, such as Kylian Mbappe or Kai Havertz, look drastically better thanks to custom animations.

Final Thoughts

If you’re expecting to see a radically different game from FIFA 22, you might be disappointed. After a handful of matches, I felt like I’d seen all the major additions FIFA 23 had to offer, and while I’ll almost certainly be spending hours trying to master its new Power Shots and defense mechanics, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the series ends with a small step forward instead of a leap.

That being said, when all is said and done, it’s hard to argue that FIFA 23 is the best representation of the beautiful game that EA has ever put to disc. HyperMotion 2 has brought fantastic fluidity to matches, and the new sets are just what was needed to make free kicks and corners vital again.

It might not be the reinvention some fans wanted, but FIFA 23 is a solid foundation for the new era of EA SPORTS FC. Hopefully the rest of the game will ship when it rolls out of the tunnel in September.


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